Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Have Thine Own Way, Lord

We have missed being at church for the past few weeks. We get some great communication pieces though that help us keep up with the life of the church. This week our church focuses on prayer. To that end, we chose the hymn "Have Thine Own Way, Lord." Over the years, I have struggled with prayer, especially as I began to trust more in the sovereignty of God in all things. It seems to me though that this song captures what prayer is about. It is our chance to tell God our desires and ask him to shape our desires to be more in line with His will. I am still struggling with this issue. It seems to me to need some more reading and thinking.

Hymn of the Week
Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Words by Adelaide A. Pollard
Music by George C. Stebbins

Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way,
Thou art the potter, I am the clay,
Mold me and make me, fester thy will,
While I am waiting, gilded and still.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Caleb the artist

One of the gifts that Caleb got for his birthday was some new colored pencils, crayons and some drawing books. He loves drawing and its getting pretty good. Every week at Wednesday night church he colors a picture. It is always really good. We save it and put it up on our bulletin board. This is one way that we can really celebrate him. Here's a sample of Caleb's latest work from this morning.

Alpena highlight

From Alpena
One of my favorite things that we did in Alpena was building a quinzy or snow cave in the huge pile of snow that the snow plow left. We started it on Christmas day with Alex and then finished it the next day. It was big enough for me to sit up in and we even lit some candles. My dream is that someday we'll dig a huge snow cave and sleep in it. I think it will be a while before that happens. It sure was fun though.

Happy Birthday Caleb!

From Alpena
Today Caleb turns five-years-old. Wow. Caleb is so much fun and energetic. He loves to be around people and spend time with kids his age. He loves art and is very creative. We celebrated his birthday at Gigi's house with a "Michael Phelps" party. This amounted to lots of American flags, some gold medals and doing our best to put away 10,000 calories. We ended the party at the Plaza Pool in Alpena. It was a ton of fun and I think Caleb really enjoyed it. We got Caleb a tape recorder and an Indiana Jones outfit. We've already gotten some good recordings. Maybe I'll try to figure out how to put some of those online. You can see all of the photos here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Gammons Family

On behalf of our whole family, I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas. I hope that this Christmas, each of you are gripped by the wonder of our savior being born as a baby, living a perfect life and offering himself as a ransom on a cross. We have definitely had glimpses of this wonder, intermixed with sled rides, fires, sleigh rides, vomiting children, diarrhea and family. One of the best parts of our time together was the Christmas play that Mom and Shube put together with the kids. You can see a snippet below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More sleigh ride

Here is a video from last night's sleigh ride. It continues to snow here and we continue to have a great time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just hear those sleigh bells

From Alpena

Today we went out to Gary Jones' land for one of the best times I've had in a while. We took a sleigh ride through his beautiful property behind two of his horses, Agnes and Annie. We have so much snow here, it was perfect. My highlight was seeing the smiles on all of my kids faces during the sleigh ride. I also really enjoyed hearing Gary, with great pride, talk about his land, his two new cows, his successful try at maple syrup last spring and how he is learning to live off his land. We even got a brief tour of the log home that he built 15 years ago. As I have written before, I have had (and still do) have dreams of living on some land in the country. It was great to hear of the success of one man in accomplishing his dreams. When we were done, we roasted marshmallows, drank hot cocoa and sat by a great bonfire.

If you are ever in Alpena, Michigan and want to have a wonderful experience with your family, contact Gary Jones. Tell him that the Gammons family sent you. You can see all of our pictures here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

As we turn toward Christmas week, I wanted to choose a carol that speaks of the glory of God revealed through the incarnation of his son Jesus. Last night right before dinner I sang through this carol in my head and I think it definitely fills that bill. Join us this week in lauding the glory of God, given to us in the babe born in a manger about which the angels spoke to the shepherds in the hills around Bethlehem. This is the glory that has reconciled us to God and delivered us from his wrath. In deed, Glory to God in the highest!

This is another hymn where later verses are even more rich. This is the third verse.

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

I love the line about him laying his glory by, born that man no more may die. That is the Gospel. That is why God came to earth. That is why we celebrate Christmas!

Hymn of the Week
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Words by Charles Wesley
Music by Felix Mendelssohn

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”


Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Mahalia Jackson delivers a beautiful and triumphant rendition. I would love to hear her belt this one out with a background choir of angels someday in Heaven. This will definitely be one that we sing around the throne!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nagel night at the Gammons house

From December
Last night we focused on all things Gregg Nagel. First, Amanda and the boys made hockey puck cookies and the pictured hockey rink diorama. (Gregg loves hockey.) Then for dinner Amanda made Gregg and Allison's recipe for poppy seed chicken. MMMmmm. Finally, in God's perfect providence, a gift arrived in the mail from Gregg and Allison. The kids were thrilled with all of this, especially the Indiana Jones action figures and the book with the mirror. Molly couldn't get enough of looking at herself in the little mirror and laughing. She's funny. (Thanks, G&A.) It was fun to come home to another demonstration of Amanda's creativity.
From December

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas at our house

From Christmas '08

Since we are going to be at my mom's house for Christmas we did exchanged gifts on Monday night. It was a lot of fun to see the excitement on the faces of the kids. We have followed the tradition of some by getting the kids three gifts (like Jesus got): one is a book; one is something we they want; one is something we wanted to get them.

Molly was most excited to get the Dr. Seuss book "Hop on Pop". She has been walking around for weeks saying, "Hop pop, hop pop." She's hilarious. Matthew got the gun that I referenced a few days ago. Caleb got a new bike. It was fun to see him on that. I think we'll have a lot of fun this Spring. Ben was most excited about the Lego Imperial Cruiser that he and Caleb got from Shube. He was also way into the new keyboard that we got him. He has been spending every non-Lego moment messing with that. We are all looking forward to finishing the week and seeing Mom/Gigi. You can see all of the pictures so far from Christmas here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Away In A Manger

We have a Little People's nativity scene that every time you push the star down on the top, it plays Away In A Manger. Unfortunately, it has soured me a little to this Christmas hymn. But when Shirley suggested last night after dinner, Ben was very excited. I was excited too to see the boys sing a long with this one. I learned this when I was their age in Aunt Betty's class at Waterford Community Church. Below you can hear Ben and Caleb from two years ago singing this carol. Turn it up. It is a great one!

Hymn of the Week
Away In A Manger
Words by J. C. File
Music by William J. Kirkpatrick

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

Gabcast! bcm #7 - Away in a Manger

Ben and Caleb sing

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nagel grandkids

From Christmas '08

We have begun the Christmas season. Last night we got together with Dave and Joni and Brad and Sarah for a good ham dinner and gift exchange. You can check out the photos from last night and all of our Christmas photos here.

What's wrong with America?

What's wrong with America? Well, there is probably a pretty long list, but after hitting both Target and Toys 'r' Us this weekend, I've got a pretty short list. For Christmas I wanted to get Matthew a toy gun. The one that I had in my mind was the Daisy rifle that all the cool kids had when I was little. It was really cool looking and when you shot it, it went "bunwg". When I went to Target--nothing. At Toys 'r' Us, more of the same. The only guns that they had were branded with Batman, Indiana Jones, Kung Fu Panda or something like that. I think that this will result in a whole generation of little boys who won't have the fun that Joey and I did. We spent a lot of time playing "guns" with our neighbors. When I was looking for info on the web about this, I came across this article from 1988 about K Mart and Toys 'r' Us phasing toy guns out.

So this morning, I jumped online and went to toyarsenal.com and found exactly what I needed (pictured below.) It's not the exact gun that I was looking for, but I think Matt will love it. How about you? Did you play guns growing up? For Jim and Alex (our friend who is a policeman and my brother-in-law hunter), what do you guys think about toy guns? Are they DANGEROUS?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chicken rice soup

From December
This weekend Amanda had pulled a chicken from the freezer for us to have. Even though no one was really in the mood to eat, we made it anyway. I had some, then I did the Grandma thing and sat at the table and pulled all the meat off. I took all of the juices and the drippings from the pan, threw that and the carcass in the stock pot with my mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions) and some chicken broth. After consulting with one of my mentor chefs (thanks, Joni) about the correct amount of rice to put in, we were in business. We had this for dinner last night and it was great! The flavor was perfect. I've made chicken soup before and often it is a little on the flavorless side. I did add some dried herbs, but I think that it was all of the pan drippings that I put in that really made the difference. I will be enjoying another bowl today at lunch.

Christmas cookies

From December
Before the kids got sick this week, we baked cookies and took them around to our neighbors. As I looked at the pictures this morning, I could definitely see the beginnings of their sickness. Amanda and I laughed the next morning hoping that our whole street didn't get what we had. I think you can get arrested for that kind of thing. Isn't that biological warfare or something?

The most fun was at the end when just Caleb, Ben and I went to an older couple's house toward the end of our street. I asked the boys if they wanted to sing our Hymn of the Week, "Joy to the World." Ben said that he wanted to see "Jingle Bells". Caleb said, "Okay, but not the Batman one." The woman that came to the door was surprised and I think very happy to see us. It was a good Christmas memory. You can see a few other pictures from that night here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wash your hands

From November '08
It's that time of year at the Gammons' house. On Saturday, Molly threw up in her sleep. We all stayed home from church and small group. We thought about trying to go to small group, because we thought it might have just been something she ate. We were glad we didn't when she threw up again. Then on Monday night, all three of the boys woke up to vomit. We were up from about 11:00 PM until 3:30 AM or so. I stayed home from work yesterday to spare my coworkers and to help with the kids. Most of the day was spent doing all of the laundry from the night before. Nobody ate anything yesterday and so we had a pretty good day.

I woke up this morning to Caleb vomiting at my bedside. I was so glad that he at least made it out of his bed. Everyone is on the mend though. We have mandated extreme handwashing and no cup or binkie sharing. We've sprayed a lot of Lysol and are going to try and stay on top of this. We definitely don't want to enter the Christmas season with this stuff.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Joy To The World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come. That is the thing that has given me great joy this year. I was so disappointed yesterday when we had to stay home from church. All of us were sick as dogs (thus begins our winter marathon.) Advent is obviously one of my favorite times at church and it is all tied to the joy that we sing about and hear preached. What else is there that can truly bring joy except the realization that we were deserving of Hell for our Sin, God in his grace sent his son to be born a baby, live a perfect life, and die for the ultimate sacrifice. This is joy!

I wish we were learning all of the verses. They are great. In many Advent hymns, the second verses and following really get into the reasons why Christ came and many could be sung all year. This is one such. Enjoy the version below by Nat King Cole.

Hymn of the Week
Joy to the World
Words by Isaac Watts
Music arranged by Lowell Mason

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The attack of the Tooth Fairy

From December

Ben's tooth had been loose for a few weeks. Then yesterday he tried to bite a LEGO apart and that did it. It really loosened it up and it hurt. Amanda didn't want me to pull. She said that she had many traumatic memories of her dad with pliers. At lunch though, when I touched it, I couldn't believe how loose it was. I told Ben it wouldn't hurt, and it didn't. The Tooth Fairy did visit him last night and left him a silver dollar. We decided that would be a fun tradition. How much did the Tooth Fairy leave you when you were little?

Minnesota Molly

From December
We got our first good snow this past week. The boys were excited to get out in it. Not to be outdone, Molly bundled up and got out there. She did great. She would fall down, but get right back up. Once she lost her mitten though, she was ready to come in. Amanda and I laughed because Molly is the only Minnesota native in our family. Maybe she'll grow up to love snow machines and ice fishin'.

Molly in hat

From December
Can you believe this picture? The Arendt family got us this hat when Molly was born. I wondered if she would ever fit into it. Until now, it has served as Caleb's rock 'n' roller hat, his Indiana Jone's hat and his cowboy hat. Now it's Molly's hat.


Check out these pics of the boys. I think the most interesting part is how old Ben looks in them.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Angels, From The Realms of Glory

For the first week of advent we chose Angels, From The Realms of Glory. I like this carol a lot. I am really looking forward to the advent season and all of the music that we get to enjoy. The version below is not the best one. But it will at least give you an idea of the song.

Hymn of the Week
Angels, From The Realms of Glory
Words by James Montgomery
Music by Henry T. Smart

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.


Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Monday, November 24, 2008


John 1:29
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Today I am thankful for salvation: the moment when Jesus' blood covered over all of my sin and I became an heir of the father. Today I am thankful for sanctification: the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in my life by which I am able to accomplish the good works that God prepared beforehand. Both of these are free gifts from God, bought through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, given to me freely due in no part to anything that I have done or will do.

This is what yesterday's sermon at church was all about. You can read, listen to or watch it here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

And so it begins . . .

Gregg and Allison arrived yesterday and so our holiday festivities begin. It has been great to have them. Gregg built a new Lego set with the boys this morning and we've been watching some college football all day. It's almost time for dinner: pulled pork barbecue sandwiches. More updates later this week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

After a quiet week at the Gammons' house we come to the days before Thanksgiving. This season brings with it some traditions. Amanda has hung the "I'm thankful for . . ." banner on the wall to be filled in; the turkey salt and pepper shakers are on the table; and we turn to a hymn of thanksgiving. Gregg and Allison come this Saturday for the week before Thanksgiving, so it seems like the holiday is right around the corner. I do love this time of year. I love the way that it turns my heart back toward all of the many things that I AM thankful for. Join us in learning this hymn. I am sure we'll sing it at our church. I hope you get the chance to as well.

Hymn of the Week
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Words by Henry Alford
Music by St. George's Windsor, George J. Elvey

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Memorize Hymns with Covenant Life Church

What a great idea! For the next ten months, Covenant Life Church, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is going to be memorizing ten great hymns of the faith. From their website, they explain the reason for doing this.

"We’re doing this project because we want to benefit not only from the songs written in our lifetime, but also from hymns that have served the people of God for generations and will endure long after we’re gone. They are time-tested and true. They speak to every circumstance of life and point us to the wisdom, love and power of our gracious God and Savior."
The best part is that you can join them. They have put up an album of these hymns on Noisetrade.com (a site I've mentioned before.) I'm listening to it now and the arrangements are new but not annoying. The list is pretty traditional. You might not know "Before The Throne". It is one that our church does quite a bit though and it is a great one. Click on the link below and it will take you to the download. Tell 5 friends or just pay what you want. Feel free to use my e-mail addresses.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chicago Weekend Highlights

From November '08

This past weekend we got out of dodge and headed to Chicago. We had a great time. On Saturday we went to the Jelly Belly factory in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. We did the tour and got some free Jelly Belly jelly beans. My highlight was getting the Bean Boozled pack. They have some really gross flavors mixed in with normal flavors. I'll be bringing these to Alpena for Christmas. My favorite weird flavor is toothpaste. The worst one was black pepper. It was terrible.

Amanda's cousins live right across the street so we did lunch with them and hung out at theirplace for a while. Then we headed to Chicago to stay with Amanda's grandma. On Sunday we headed over to Amanda's aunt and uncle's house for some Chicago style pizza. I love this pie. I didn't like it at first, but I am definitely a convert. On Monday we got up and went to the Shedd Aquarium. It was a free day, which was perfect. We stayed about two hours and then didn't feel guilty about leaving. Caleb loved the aquarium and would have stayed much longer. Everyone else was done. My favorite things at the aquarium were the sea dragon and watching Caleb sit for about 15 minutes and listen to the worker talk about a tortise.

The weekend was capped off by our meal at the Norske Nook. Didn't we have the fun!

Happy Birthday, Shube!

From July

Today Shirley turns 29, again! We love you Shube. Thanks for being such a great mom, m-in-l, and grandma. We look forward to many more.

Hymn of the Week--There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood

This week's hymn is another great old one. It is also easy to memorize.

Hymn of the Week
There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood
Words by William Cowper
Music is Cleans­ing Fount­ain, 19th Cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can camp meet­ing tune

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

Mmmmm, Norske Nook

This past weekend we went to Chicago to visit Amanda's grandma and other relations. (More on that to come.) Whenever we make this trip we talk about stopping in Osseo, Wisconsin at Norske Nook restaurant. It doesn't usually work out though. We have only been there one other time. But on Monday night we hit Osseo right at dinner time. The restaurant is about 3 miles off the highway in their downtown. It is definitely in my top 5 restaurants in the WORLD. Both times I've been there I have had their hot sandwiches: turkey last time and beef this time. The meat on the sandwich was so tender and delicious. I only had half a sandwich because I was saving room for the main course, the pies. I had their white chocolate and raspberry pie. It was great. Apparently on Wednesday night you can get pie and coffee for $2.50. If you're ever traveling on I-94 through Wisconsin on your way to the Twin Cities, take the time and stop at Norske Nook. You won't regret it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why I love church

All week long I struggle against my "old man". I struggle to love my wife and kids well. I struggle to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I struggle to care for the people at work. I often find myself falling short in these areas. Some days I even find myself falling short in the desire. Then Sunday comes (or Wednesday night, like last night).

What is most encouraging to me in my struggle is to see other people loving God. When I see young people, old men, and many others obviously growing and being affected by the Holy Spirit it rejuvenates my spirit and my desire to follow Christ more.

Last night, I was exhausted. I wasn't being very nice to Amanda and the last thing that I wanted to do was go to church and sit with five ants-in-their-pants second grade boys and talk to them about wisdom. Then I got to church. We sang about God and his transcendent control over all things and his rule over all people. We prayed for our new president-elect that God would bless him and even change his heart about the unborn. Then we went to our classes and the boys in my group were much more focused and enjoyable. Church is definitely a means of grace in my life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Minnesota Election Results

Check back here throughout the evening for your Minnesota election results.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Good Times

From Halloween '08

You know your kids are getting old when you go further than your own street for trick-or-treat. We had a great time tonight. Caleb LOVED his camouflaged face. Matt was hilarious saying, "All day!" (What Adrian Peterson from the Vikings says.) Ben was the hit of the neighborhood with his LEGO costume. And Molly was super sweet in her cowgirl costume. She sure didn't want that hat on though. Shube handed out candy and Amanda and I got to take the kids all out. Halloween is one of the only times that we get to see some of our neighbors. The older folks really like to see the kids too. You can check out all of the photos here.

Halloween at Shube's Office

Amanda schlepped the kids all over town today. This morning was at Home School Co-op. Then lunch with Grandma Shube and then to my office for more treats. I asked her if she was tired. She said, "No," and even smiled. She's a saint.

The Office: Halloween

Amanda and I love the show The Office. Last night on the show they talked about dressing up for Halloween at the office. Well, today I am living it. Everyone in my office dressed up as either classes or programs that we offered. We have the horticulturalist, law enforcement, Socrates from the philosophy department and me. I'm the psych class "Adulthood, Aging and Death". The boys got quite a kick out of my costume this morning. The kids are supposed to stop by the office this afternoon for some trick-or-treating. I'll post photos later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One more of Molly

Can you even believe how sweet she looks? This is another Ben Arendt photo. If you are looking for someone to do some really great pics of your family and you live in the West Michigan area, give Ben a call.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Welcome Samuel Michael Gammons

Samuel Michael Gammons entered the world today at 12:27 (CST). He was 8 lbs 1 oz. Congratulations to Joe and Carrie and Drew! We love you guys and look so forward to meeting Sam. Pictures to come.

Hymn of the Week--In My Heart There Rings a Melody

This song is not full of theological significance. It is simply a song of a changed life. We heard it played on the radio yesterday and knew it needed to be our hymn of the week. Amanda has been listening to a Christian radio station on AM. They call themselves "The Bible Station". That is the only place that you would be able to find this song on the radio.

Hymn of the Week
In My Heart There Rings a Melody
Words and Music by Elton M. Roth

I have a song that Jesus gave me,
It was sent from Heaven above;
There never was a sweeter melody,
'Tis a melody of love.

In my heart there rings a melody.
There rings a melody with heaven's harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody;
There rings a melody of love!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Who is this kid?

Caleb is an interesting character. He loves to ham it up, that is as long as no one is paying too much attention. The second that we ask him to "Do it again!", the show's over. He's hilariously funny. You just have to be on your toes to catch it.

October Birthdays

October 25: Tricia
October 26: Dave
October 27: Mom
October 31: Joni

These are four of the most important people in our lives and we get to celebrate them all for three consecutive days in October. Over the years that Amanda and I have been married (and even before that) this has led to some phone calls, cards and gifts falling through the cracks. This year, we did manage to get cards or phone calls out to each. One of my favorites was when we called Mom today and sang both verses of Happy Birthday. The second verse is of course about living in a zoo, looking like a monkey, etc. The boys love that one.

Happy birthday to each of you this week. I hope that you've all had a good week.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

lego minifegre cleshien (Lego Minifigure Collection)

caleb and i bllut all the mini figures today. (there's a picture of them below the post.) it was really fun. i am writing this blog post and daddy is helping me. i wrote the the title and the first few words by myself, but then I wanted some help.

Benny :)

pecsheer (picture) by benny

Friday, October 24, 2008

Daddy's girl

Ben Arendt took this photo of Molly and me. It sure was fun to have her alone in Washington.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suffering and the sovereignty of God

Romans 8:22-23
2 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

A little girl gets Leukemia; a sister loses a baby; another struggles for her own; four kids at our church are in a terrible car accident; a friend's father dies; loved ones struggle with loneliness; the economy tanks: this is just a short list of the suffering that we have seen in the lives around us. These are the things that I have been thinking about lately. I don't know much, but there are some things that I believe. I'll throw them out there. Tell me what you think.
  1. God is in complete control of all things.
  2. God is completely good and completely for those that trust in Him.
  3. There is sin and pain in the world.
  4. God uses pain and sin in the lives of those He loves to draw them into greater likeness to His son.
I have been trying to quickly pull some references together for these. If pushed, I could take the time to do that. But for time's sake, I'll leave those off. What do you think? Where do God's sovereignty and the world's pain coalesce?

New Poll

What's your favorite type of posts here at 2ABC2M? Tell us over at the side.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Brad and Sarah!

Today is Sarah's birthday. Brad's was a few weeks ago. We have really enjoyed living near the Brad Nagel family. We were over at their house last weekend to celebrate Sarah's birthday. Unfortunately, due to some plumbing issues Brad and I spent much of the evening with Cody the plumber. I hope everything is all better and you're enjoying your birthday.

Hymn of the Week--Jesus Saves!

It's missions focus week at church this week. I remember many a missions focus week at Waterford Community Church where missionaries would return from Africa with cool things like machetes and drums. Those evenings planted seeds in my heart that are still growing. It is our prayer that God will plant seeds like this in the hearts of our kids.

This week's hymn is a great one for missions focus. It works great with the boys too. If they can't get all the words, they can at least sing "Jesus saves! Jesus save!"

Hymn of the Week
Jesus Saves

Words by Priscilla J. Owens
Music by William J. Kirkpatrick

We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land, climb the mountains, cross the waves;
Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Death of Starbucks

This coming Friday, October 24, 2008, my local Starbucks will close its doors forever. From then on, my coffee will have to be purchased at the Starbucks in the grocery store on my way to work. It just won't be the same. Are you feeling the effects of the closing of 600 Starbucks in the U.S.? Alex and Allison, what's the word from corporate?

Celebrate: Amanda

When we were in Seattle for Ken's wedding they had a time of sharing after the rehearsal dinner. I told Ken what I had said to him as he was contemplating asking Andrea to marry him. It was something like this.

"I have never experienced more of God's grace and mercy than through my relationship with Amanda. She has graciously accepted my flaws and faults while justly pushing me and encouraging me to pursue more of Christ's holiness. I never experience anything like this before I was married.

KIDS. The other amazing reason to get married. My kids give me more joy than anything in my life outside of Amanda. They are a gift from God and one that I would highly recommend you look into.

Marriage is the hardest thing I've ever done. It is the area in my life that I fall most short and where my sin is most obvious. It is also where God shows me how much I need Him. It is a God ordained union to show us about His son and the church."

I reiterated these things here because I have lately been amazed at how much God has used Amanda in my life in the past two years or so. It seems that almost every spiritual growth area in my life has been initiated by Amanda's example. I see Amanda reading her Bible; I want to read my Bible. I see Amanda worshiping; I want to pursue Christ more. I see Amanda leading the boys spiritually; I want to lead my family.

One of the things that I have been most proud of her lately is her instruction of the kids in their spiritual formation. I have been listening to the White Horse Inn podcast for a while. Their slogan is "Know what you believe and why you believe it." To that end, I thought it would be a good idea to begin to catechize (teach) the kids about our faith. I printed off the Apostles' Creed and the Catechism for Young Children. Amanda didn't jump right on board with this. But a few weeks later, I came home and she said that every morning they were reading a psalm and beginning to memorize the creed. Now both Ben and Caleb have the creed memorized and have moved on to the catechism. It is so great to hear the boys, even Matthew, reply to the questions, "Who made you?"


"What else did God make?"

"God made all things."

"Why did God make you and all things?"

"For his own glory."

Amanda and I have very different gifts. When Amanda gets on board with something, that's IT. She is a determined action taker. I am learning from this that words mean nothing if they are not grounded and proved in action. It is pretty obvious why God gave me Amanda. Isn't it?!

Friday, October 17, 2008

How do you talk about your kids without bragging?

When I was growing up, I always remember getting Christmas cards from family and friends where it seemed like their children had either invented a cure for cancer or won yet another Nobel prize. You know what I'm talking about. I remember Tricia telling stories about how when she was teaching, parents would come in and talk as if their children's poop didn't stink. Amanda and I have tried to not be proud about who are kids are. Understanding our shortcomings and depravity makes this an easier task. I can certainly say that our kids are amazing through God's grace, in spite of me.

This is also how I have tried to write our blog. On one hand I want to share things that we are excited about for our kids while trying to be humble. I have also tried to appropriately share frustrations that we face. But no one wants to read someone else's whining.

How do you share things that you're excited about and proud about, without bragging? If you have kids or even if you don't, how do you tell others about successes in your life?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Great weekend

We had a great weekend in the mountains of Washington. After leaving Seattle we drove over the mountains to a lodge near Leavenworth, Washington. We stayed at a beautiful rustic lodge with all of the people who were attending the wedding.

The highlights for me were the drive through the mountains, spending time in beautiful scenery, seeing Ben and Brynn Arendt and other friends, and the hospitality of Ken and Andrea and their families. I've been to a number of weddings and this was definitely one of my favorites. It was also so much fun to spend time with just Molly. She doesn't get a lot of alone time with just Mom and Dad so she really liked that. As you can see from the picture below she was definitely the prettiest girl at the wedding (next to her mom.) You can see all our pictures here.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Last night we arrived in Seattle, Washington. We are here for my friend Ken Peer's wedding on Saturday. We flew a day early to hang out in Seattle. I have never been here before and it has been a long time for Amanda. When we told Dave that we were coming out here he said, "I have got the perfect place for you to stay." Boy, was he right. We are at the Inn at the Market, in the midst of Pike Place Market. The image above is the view out our window. (The famous fish market is in the lower left corner.) When we got in last night the guy at the front desk broke the news to us that they "had to upgrade us to a town home room." So last night Molly slept downstairs in the living room and we slept in our huge Tempurpedic bed. (Tricia, by the way, has a great story about her experience with Tempurpedic beds.)

For dinner last night we were going to go to a little French cafe right below the hotel. Amanda wasn't thrilled with this selection. When we all sat down and looked at the menu she was even less thrilled. So I said, "Let' go." We grabbed our stuff and high-tailed it out of there. Instead we went to Etta's for seafood. I had done a little research and this was one that I remembered. I read that the crab cakes were the best item on the menu, so that is what I went with. Amanda had the king salmon. Both of our meals were great. We had to leave right after we were done with our meals because, as I told the waiter, "one of us has just had an accident in our pants." He said, "To be polite, I won't ask who." He got a kick out of that.

This morning's itinerary is breakfast and then around the corner to the original Starbuck's. We'll hang out in the market and then we're off to Ken's rehearsal dinner. It has been a great 24 hours so far. I love hanging out with my two favorite girls.

See the rest of our pictures here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hymn of the Week--Like a River Glorious

This week's hymn was a difficult one to track down. We called Shube and asked her what hymn "Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed" was. She couldn't come up with it so we called my mom. She didn't come through either. But while we were on the phone with her, Shube called back with the answer.

Every time that we have sung this, I have thought of Jim and Shelley Colbert and tried to pray this for them.

Hymn of the Week
Like a River Glorious

Words by Frances R. Havergal
Music by Wye Valley, James Mountain

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.


Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ben and Caleb's Sarah Palin imitations

Amanda has been joking around with the boys about Sarah Palin. Then one night we walked past the boys' room and they were all doing their best Sarah Palin imitations to each other. We had to get it on video. Enjoy!

Colbert update

I am helping the Colbert family out by posting their blog posts over at their blog. You can keep up with their life and Abbey's progress here. Please continue to pray for Jim, Shelley, Jacob, Micah and especially Abbey.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Oh God!

This morning when I got to work I read an e-mail from Amanda's best friend from high school, Shelley (Vardas) Colbert. They found out yesterday that her daughter Abigail (Abbey) has leukemia. She is a little younger than Caleb. She is in the children's hospital in Cleveland. It is so difficult to understand God's ways and His steps. I trust that He knows much more than we do and loves the Colbert family and especially little Abbey more than we do. Shelley asked for prayer for the following things.

Pray please for Abbey, that she will not have a lot of pain. Pray that she would sleep good at night and not get too homesick (she kept asking us to take her home today). Pray that they would find no cancer in her bone marrow (they already said that they have never seen it not spread there with what her numbers are looking like), but we know God can make there be no cancer there. Pray that it would not be in her spine. Pray that we could be creative in keeping her happy, comfortable and occupied. Pray for lots of good talks with her about God and His care for us. Pray that she would be able to really experience God's love for her. Pray that her little body would handle all of these medications o.k. and that she would be able to bounce back quickly. Pray for strenght for Jim and I ... that Satan would not be attacking our thoughts. Pray for our relationship, that it would be strengthened. Pray for sleep for us at night. Please pray for Jacob and Micah as they will be away from Jim, myself and Abbey a lot. Pray that Micah would switch to formula easily. Pray that we would be a light on this hospital floor. That people would see Jesus through our family. Pray for my mom and step-dad as they are traveling through the night to get home from their vacation. Pray for Jim's parents as they come into town tomorrow. Pray for strengh for our parents as they care for our boys. Please pray for her to completely beat this.

I am praying that God will work Paul's words from Phillipians 4 for Jim, Shelley, Jacob (Ben's age), Abbey and Micah (Molly's age).

Phillipians 4:6-7
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why'd you quit your church?

I sometimes read Abraham Piper's (Pastor John's son) blog. It is often a really good question followed by people's responses in the comments. This week he asked the question, "Why'd you quit your church?" I wrote about why we left the church that we had been going to for over a year in this post. As I read through the comments on Abraham's blog they seemed to separate into two categories: the church (teaching, worship, theology) and how I felt in the church (not cared for, lonely, not heard, not included). A couple examples of each follows.

"theology issues and feeling like I was getting a pep talk every Sunday instead of being taught about Jesus."--Morgan

"Our thumbs down came when ‘Deal Or No Deal’ video clips were played for two months prior to the sermon. Also, the messages were 100% topical instead of going through books of the Bible."--WL

"I realized no one noticed when I was gone."--ann

"My wife and I left our old church because it didn’t want us anymore, and they cut out the things that mattered the most for morketing reasons."--Fr. Spike

I know that some of my readers have left churches or are thinking about it. What made you leave? Are there reasons for leaving that are better than others?

Friday, September 26, 2008

As previously promised

I wrote a few days ago about how Molly loves the animal sounds book. Here is the previously promised video. Matthew chimes in at the end. See another version here.

Economic perspective

If you have been worried about the economy (I mean if you haven't been under a rock for the past two weeks) you should check out this article from Christianity Today by Dave Ramsey. As always, he offers a cool-headed perspective on the times.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

End of September Update

Life is good right now at the Gammons' house. We have much to be thankful for. I'll share a few highlights.
Matthew and I went out for breakfast for his birthday. Matthew is growing into such a nice person. Three has been a difficult year for both of his brothers, but I am not sure if we will have a similar time with Matthew. I so enjoyed my time with him. How could I not? (See picture below.)The other highlight of the last week has been Caleb's conquering of his fear of riding his bike! Caleb was very nervous about learning to ride. He didn't want to fall. My mantra with him while we struggled together was, "Caleb, I want you to do the hard thing." I didn't care if he learned to ride a bike or not. I just did not want him to give in to his fears. Yesterday when I got home from work, he was so excited to show me what he and Amanda had done. I am so glad that Amanda and I are on the same page about things like this. I know some moms would just baby their boys. Not Amanda, she jumped right in there and worked with him for two hours. But Caleb was the one to do it. I am proud of him. Now we have two bike riders. Two to go.

See more pictures here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hymn of the Week--I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Last week, this hymn came on the iPod and Matthew looked at me and said, "I like this song, Daddy." I knew it needed to be this week's Hymn of the Week. We have been enjoying it. It may need to go for a couple of weeks though for us to get it down pat.

Hymn of the Week
I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Words by Phillip P. Bliss
Music by George Stebbins

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.


Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.


Fair trade music? That is what these artists are purporting. If you go to NoiseTrade.com, you can see a list of artists that are "giving" away their music. You can download the music by either sending a message about the music to 5 e-mail addresses or by paying any price you want. I have downloaded three albums (Sorry to those who have gotten the e-mails.) There doesn't seem to be any catch.

The group of artists is headed by by Derek Webb, formerly of Caedmon's Call. He has given away his music before in other formats. I am not a huge fan of his music but I love his philosophy of art and music. The one album that I have really enjoyed from NoiseTrade is Kate York's Sadly Love. I had heard some of her music before and enjoyed it. You should definitely give it a try. Listen below.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Introverts and Extroverts

Last week I pointed out to Amanda that we definitely have both introverts and extroverts in our family. On that day, Molly was sitting on her play table playing with her doll house, Ben was his bedroom playing Lego and Caleb and Matthew were hanging out together. Caleb hates playing Lego by himself. He is always asking Ben to come and play with him. Caleb is definitely our extrovert and I think Matthew is as well. They both really enjoy being with people. Ben and Molly really need their alone time. It will be interesting to see how these personality differences develop throughout the years.

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

When Matthew was born I remember wondering how he would fit into our family. We already had these two crazy fun characters and I wondered just who this new little person would be. Matthew has been such a gift to our family. He is completely different from his two brothers (no surprise.) He is very tender and compassionate. He tells Amanda and me that he loves us a lot. He loves to cuddle Molly. He also LOVES sports and balls. He is going to be our athlete. When we asked him what he wanted for his birthday he said a football and chapstick. When he saw the jersey that we gave him (above) he was very pleased. He wore it Saturday and he had to wear it yesterday when the Vikings played. We had a great weekend celebrating the boys' birthdays. You can see the photos here.